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March 2003

NGC 2841: A Spiral Galaxy

NGC 2841 is a fine spiral galaxy - a system of over 100 billion stars, along with lots of gas, and interstellar dust. This galaxy is somewhat similar to our own Milky Way, but is about 30 percent larger. It is also a tighter spiral - our Milky Way has more loosely-wound spiral arms. The darker blotches on the disk are huge clouds of interstellar dust that obscure our view of the stars behind.

Located in the constellation Ursa Major, NGC 2841 lies about 45 million light-years from us. It is only faintly visible through binoculars on a dark moonless night. The individual stars that you can see in this image are all are nearby stars that are part of our own galaxy. With that in mind, this image provides a kind of three dimensional effect; the stars lie in the foreground with the galaxy hovering far in the distance.